So tonight, I got a chance to play the Lord of the Rings board game. I was apprehensive about playing this game, partially because the game did not seem all that exciting, but mostly because Munchkin sounded like a much more interesting game. Nonetheless, I ended up in the Lord of the Rings group, and while it was a little more engaging than I had feared, it’s probably not a game I’ll be wanting to play again in the near future.
When we started, we all chose Hobbits to play as, and I ended up with the character Fatty. I don’t remember who Fatty is. I know he was not in the movies. And I don’t remember him from the books. And I read the books. But supposedly Fatty was there and was important enough to make him a player character in this game. In any case, we went through the entire game, and after spending some time trying to learn how to actually play it, we managed to get all the way to Mordor and destroy the ring.
I mean, all of this was engaging, but I did find myself frustrated at some of the game mechanics, namely the conditions for losing. If you have to discard a certain number of cards and you don’t have them, your character is out. If your character meets up with Sauron, your character is out. If your character happens to be the ring bearer when getting out, the game ends. If you reach a particular event, the game ends. Now I understand that these conditions make winning the game that much more of an event, but I’d rather a game be fully winnable with some snags along the way than have a game that could end early for any number of reasons. And when a player becomes “out,” there’s nothing left for them to do. They may as well leave and do something else. A good game in my mind, is one that manages to keep all players involved until the end.
Fortunately, no one became “out” and we still won the game. On the plus side, by the end of it, we were all working as a team, and trying our best to help each other out, even of that meant sacrificing our own cards or tokens to help another player. And on the flip side of my argument against the game, when the stakes are higher, you arguably become more involved in keeping everyone alive. In any case, this was a decent enough game, and while other people may like it, I think I’ve had my fill of it for the time being.